Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I Just Want To Be With My Family...

Aunt Jenny has been in town visiting from Illinois. Since her arrival Senia Mae has spent a significant amount of time with her: going to and from school, playing dollhouse, and hanging out at Sonic eating cheese toasties. Aunt Jenny is just the type of gal Senia Mae likes to keep in her right hand pocket because she's enthusiastic, fun loving, and most importantly, available. The two have practically been inseparable over the last few weeks.

Last night after dinner Aunt Jenny and Savannah said goodnight and were heading back to Grandma's house for the evening when someone said to Senia Mae, "Unless you want to come with us and have a sleepover..." We have had some issues with sleepovers in the past and have tried to not pressure her into something she is not emotionally ready for, but suddenly she was enthralled with the idea. Her eyes lit up with excitement as she and Savannah ran back to her room to grab the essentials: bunny, her favorite book The Paper Bag Princess, pajamas, and of course, clothes for school tomorrow.

Nervously I looked at Kim and asked, "You think we should just go with it, even though it's a school night?" We were both thrilled that she was taking it into consideration.

"Maybe having Aunt Jenny there will be what makes her feel comfortable enough to want to stay." Kim said. "My mom will so excited. Lets just see how it goes." And it was agreed, she would have the sleepover and they would take her to school the next day. Kim and I crossed our fingers and waited.

We were just settling into an episode of Orange is the New Black when we got the first text that said the bath was successful and everything was looking good, with the thumbs up sign. "That's really good," I said to Kim as I snuggled up to her under the blanket on the couch. Maybe this time it was really going to happen. I looked at my watch, it was nine o'clock.

In a few minutes the next text came. It said she was just going to call and say goodnight. Ok. I wondered if talking to her wouldn't shift the momentum.

"Mommies?" Senia Mae asked as as if we really weren't on the other line. I put her on speakerphone.

"Hi, Baby!" Kim said enthusiastically. "Are you ready for bed?"

"Me and Aunt Jenny are in bed," Senia Mae said as her voice cracked just a little.

In the background I heard Jenny say, "We are just fine. We're having a great time," as she tried to convince Senia Mae.

"That is so great. You are such a big girl!" I said. There was silence. Then shuffling, followed by a loud swallow. I could tell she was fighting back tears.

"Will you come over for breakfast?" she asked, in a soft, innocent voice that sounded so pitiful I wanted to reach through the phone and wrap her up in my arms.

"Of, course," Kim and I said in unison. You can do it, Senia Mae, I thought silently, hoping she could muster up some courage.

"We will come over and have waffles then we will all bring you to school." Kim said. There was more silence. Then a whimper and some muted tears.

"Senia Mae, you are going to have so much fun at your sleepover," I said trying to change the tone as I started to feel that motherly pull in my heart.

"Mommy, I don't want to sleepover. I want to come home," Senia Mae said as she broke out crying.

"Are you sure?" Kim asked. "We'll be there as soon as you wake up?"

"No, I want to sleep at home," she said. "I just want to be with my family." I wrapped my arms around my own chest and smiled. What parent wouldn't melt with those words?

"It's OK, Senia Mae," Aunt Jenny said. "I will take you home right now."

Hearing those words made my heart stop for a second as I felt the slight tingle and squeeze in my chest. Even though I want her to flourish and be independent, that little part of me, the part that remembers her being so close in my belly for nine months, so close I could feel her fingers tickling my insides...that part of me was celebrating. I held my fist high above my head and pulled it quickly towards my face with a triumphant cheerleader's thrust. Yes, she still needs us. I breathed a sigh of relief.

In thirty minutes I was carrying her to bed. I tucked her in and gave her a kiss goodnight.

"Mommy, I love you so much," Senia Mae said as I pulled my lips away from her forehead.

"I love you too, kiddo. We'll see you in the morning," and I turned off the light.


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